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Occupy All Streets
James Felton Keith   Oct 4, 2011   Ethical Technology  

While watching the Occupy Wall Street movement gain momentum and challenge the status quo, we in the transhumanist and technoprogressive communities should take note of differences between this movement and those earlier in the 20th century that were in direct opposition to some set of conservative policies.

This movement is not in direct opposition to anything. It is however, in opposition to any kind of conservative solutions being recommended to the systemic economic ailments of today. This movement attacks fascism while often improperly referencing the term, it attacks crony capitalism which is culturally vague, and corporatism which is a new word.

While an academic or linguist might find them difficult to understand, it is quite simple to judge these new protestors as defending themselves as a part of society that is being depleted as a direct result of our inability to allocate tangible value to them. They are angry. This growing mass of people across the United States is not looking to return to a socio-economic model that influenced similar politics of the last century.

Nobody Can Predict The Moment Of Revolution from ivarad on Vimeo.

Watch the video above. This is the same group of people (young and old) that are technologically transparent, as Peter Singer identifies. They would likely take, but are not looking for traditional jobs, as I and so many others have talked/written about frequently. This vast majority of human potential, while looking at the numbers, can’t be satisfied with their odds to compete successfully. Of course, democratic culture has a venue to argue the abstraction of political and even economic rifts in society, but there are none that allow the relatively untrained to argue root causes of the problems preventing their previously comfortable existence.

Movements that aren’t rigidly against some establishment have a difficult time forming a set of solutions to seek. While the core argument may be “revolting against capitalism,” there is no replacement in sight. Having stated that, the Smithian theories aren’t ill prepared; they do, however, fail to address the very primitive ability of humans to gauge competition and allocate assets (tangible value), even in a vast market of millions of participants with relatively modest self-interest.

Those opposed find five congruent contradictions—Ecology, Inequality, Poverty, Property, Systemic Risk—when considering the modern manifestations of what Aristotle, Adam, and Ayn wrote about. These contradictions are not in fact intrinsic to capitalism. They are intrinsic to the animal.

In the human pursuit for ecological prudence, egalitarianism, distribution of wealth, shared property, and managed risks, we regularly reject the idea that it is impossible to achieve our goals without our technological extensions: without transparency of information, without distribution of education, without allocation of technologies based on need as a result of our understandings through transparency.

Courting technoprogressivism onto the American political stage may have been viewed as radical in the last decade, even as its consistent economic recession ensued. But it may not be today, amongst the somewhat informed activists of virtual social networkers and physical street walkers.

In order to be rendered valuable, entities (people, in this case) have to be represented well under some agreed upon or legal model. In the case of liberal desperation, I think people are willing to consider the potential of living-out the interconnected scenario painted in my voting public, or more vividly by Hank Pellissier‘s “representative democracy” in Invent Utopia Now.

Transhumanist rhetoric based around fundamentally transforming the human condition is not farfetched for the leftist movements of today. One would be naïve to think that tax reform or austerity or redistribution of wealth alone could cure my aforementioned contradictions. There are no conservative means to remedy the problems of today, only to return to those of the past.

Movements like Occupy Wall Street are unlikely to reject transhumanist conversation because of their spiritual or educational or morally conservative roots. Further, we are witnessing an opportunity to empower activists’ discomfort with H+ solutions, to occupy all streets.

James Felton Keith is an award winning engineer economist and published author. He is Founder of the Personal Data Project, Co-Founder of the IBM Watson backed FinTech (financial technology) firm Accrue Inc., and Keith Institute. He specializes in the ethnography of technology and economic inclusion. Formerly CEO of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce and a Mayoral Technology Appointee in Detroit, JFK currently contributes as board and patron member to OUT in STEM, OUT & Equal, Lifeboat Foundation, Apollo Theater, The Guggenheim, and IBM Global Entrepreneurs to name a few.


Great article. Occupy the all streets today, occupy all galaxies tomorrow.

Thanks for covering this!  YES - we techno-progressives should lend them support!  If there’s anyone who can do “on the ground” reportage of New York or Los Angeles Occupiers, I’d be delighted to hear from them.  The Singularity Summit is coming up in 10 days, if anyone’s there for that it would be great to send in a report.

Los Angeles is supposed to be active with Occupiers tomorrow.  ONe of their plans is to move people whose homes were foreclosed, into banks!  That seems like well-deserved retribution.

Thanks Mike!  If you get arrested and this site goes dormant for a while, I will forgive you.  I’m looking forward to the footage and report.

There are too many contradictions in this article for it to add substantially to the discussion being played out on Wall Street.  I follow Mr. Keith’s essays whenever and wherever I can, and this is not one of his better works.  Keep up the good fight Mr. Keith.

Touche @Marcus, I’ve never known you to tour Timbuktu. 

where are the contradictions? I’ve simply tired to shed some light on this on-going protest of frustration in New York and around the US, in hopes that technologists and thinkers in that genre would deploy their thoughts on how to make life more livable, productive, just (as vague a term as it is) to the vehicle that is, the growing poor people’s frustration….... The problem (i wrote about in the beginning) is that there is no “discussion”, as you put it on, Wall Street. I’m petitioning Tranhumanists to highjack (as harsh a term as it is) this vessel and fill it with substance.

I wrote this because I think that they are valuable and that it would surely be a waste to let them die on the corners of Wall & Nassau.

And for the record. I think that your name and location in 2011 are offensive.

Before we can continue our discussion, I must take issue with you characterizing my ‘name and location’ as offensive.  Marcus Aurelius is one of the great Western thinkers, whose contributions to ‘stoicism’ have been celebrated for thousands of years.  It’s ironic to me that a ‘transhumanist’ would be offended by my use of the name of such an iconic thinker.  Please explain why my location is offensive?  Timbuktu is an historic city that was once the seat of intellectual energy in the islamic world.  This city provided intellectual seed corn that was then disseminated to the rest of the ‘known’ world at that time in that location, pulling forward thought to all of humanity.  Again, ironic to me.

It is likely, only ironic to you. If anything your “seed corn” analogy is ironic. Lets stay on topic. Aurelius the tyrant or philosopher in the fumes of an empire and a city plagued by its shackling Abrahamic philosophies is NOT the topic of this article. Let’s stay on topic. I wont carry on a tangent without (or with) a name.

Looking ahead:
next summer, let’s prevent the GOP from electing another seed-cornball.
We make mistakes yet we don’t have to make the same mistakes over & over.

Finally a grass roots social movement I can get on board with, this is exciting!

I just didn’t get the Tea Party.  They only cared about government spending and high taxes, a symptom of a much larger problem set.  The federal government deficit spends too much on defense, to maintain and extend the empire for corporations to exploit resources. Local and State governments are taxing heavy because revenues are down and services are being stretched due to the bad economy. 

And the bad economy was caused by corporate greed and over time our democracy has been hijacked by the large banks and multinational corporations.

While no system spurs innovations and rewards people for new ideas, products and services like capitalism, It has a dark side.  Every corporation only cares about its own self interest, even if those interests are detrimental to society at large.  It is governments job to protect and defend the greater good of all, but both parties in America have been corrupted and now represent the will of the plutocracy (the top 1%). 

Occupy wall street is very important. Critical maybe. Saying what good it’s for is an interesting question. Maybe it would be easiest to demand the world to make sense, and to acceptable.

I’ve had it with verifiable. The onus is not on me when I protest. I can endlessly list the objections, or the systemic failures and I can let myself get entrapped in all these thousands of cliques that fell for the ‘divide and rule’ strategy.

I don’t think ‘transhumanism’ or whatever should do anything but be sincere; protest a world being torn to shreds by “nexual predators” and anti-democratic forces.

Don’t protest at the top of your lungs and you are on the wrong side of history.  Let this linger or oppose it and see turn in to a really nasty revolution down the road.

The GOP Cornvention next summer must be disrupted even if it means ruining it altogether.
In the ‘80s it was the GOP who helped end the Cold War (though it was those in Eastern Europe who actually did the dirty work). Now in the 21st century, the GOP doesn’t end wars, they keep them going for decades: we may be in Afghanistan until midcentury.
The GOP thinks because of what happened in 1989 they can continue doing the same thing over and again, hoping for a different outcome. The GOP is not an elephant who remembers well, the GOP is a senescent old creature who needs to be retired from the Big Top before he stomps on all the circus-goers.

...of course “the GOP” is shorthand for the organized Right in America, the Tea Party is a subset of “the GOP”.
Middle America is so old-fashioned, I would vote for Palin and Michelle Bachmann if they ran on the same ticket merely to placate the Right. However just today Palin dropped out (of the race she was never really in to begin with). Germany, the nation fighting the largest war in history 70 years ago, has a female president yet America is too macho to do so—and possibly a woman could not even become vice president. The GOP ran Palin as veep in ‘08 because they wanted to outflank Obama by in effect saying:

“you guys want a black for president? then we’ll run a woman for veep.”

I surmise women wont be ‘equal’ to men until we are deanimalized.

It isn’t malice so much as old-fashionedness: as James Reston noted, America is only really progressive in the material sense, “[Americans] change things with their hands, they admire those who ‘live modern’, but they are very conservative.”
America got into the Space Race because of Sputnik, not to boldly go where no man has gone before but to go where no ‘Russkie’ had gone before.

I think we’re safe in concluding that the US will not have many bases abroad in less than ten years.  This is a USSR collapse. People have started chipping on the Berlin wall.

That’s positive news, Khannea. However putting aside ten years from now, what about next year?
You and I might look more ahead to say 2016 and 2019; while the Right is looking back more to 1776 and 1789.
So that the US will not have many bases abroad in less than ten years doesn’t help us domestically—at least as far as we can see at this time. We can only ‘take it to the streets’ to a limited extent because the military possesses the most powerful air force ever, an air force capable of destroying its domestic opposition in a manner of weeks. Such is when Revolution falters in America.
But if anyone wants to trash next summer’s GOP convention, Aye to that.

World war two, Hitler disparaged the significance of the colonies in a global conflict.

Instead turned out he awakened a giant.

Mike, that giant has been asleep for a few decades, since Mister Reagan expressed a desire to ‘now know anything’.  Would be nice if that giant, the one that helped people in the world once to refind dignity, were to have awakened. The actual america instead of the GOP-infused crap we been seeing recently.

~ ” What we would really need to see is a movement ten times the size of this one—or maybe fifty times bigger—and it would have to be happening in major cities all across the country. That would show everyone that enough people are waking up from their apathetic slumber so we can begin reaching the critical mass necessary for change. But we’re still nowhere close to that kind of mass awakening.”

Hmm.. how about a change in “Global awareness” and a change in “World” view towards capitalism across not merely states and countries but internationally on a world-wide basis?

How can we achieve this with minimal destruction, violence, suffering and hardship?

Technology has the answer already - checkout the link for “Supercomputer predicts revolution” in the article next to this.

Policy changes can and will be driven by “persistent” online participation as well as actions. Violence can be avoided if we use our intelligence. All resolutions to worldly political and social problems, (including nurture and education), can be achieved by a “Global online and interconnected informed democracy of human minds”?

The “Global consciousness of interconnected human minds”, (the Global Brain/Mind), it’s encouragement and it’s evolution should be the primary goal of all trans-humanists and technoprogressives. Online transparency and surveillance works both ways, and governments and oligarchs would be foolish not to take notice of mass and international opinion?

Your single voice and opinion counts - so make it count!

Anyways, talking of distractions.. have you seen the new iPhone 5! (Shame about Steve Jobs however, although outcomes were inevitable).

Not only does this need to spread all the cities in the *US*, it needs to spread to all the cities around the *world*.  Many rebel futurist threads are starting to coalese and boil over into action, such as Burning Man, Hacker, Cyber-Punk, Pirate.  As you know, hacker activists such as anon have already been getting in some good initial punches against ‘the system’, so the initial skirmishes between the status-quo and new futurist rebels are already underway.

Hold on to your hats folks!  Strap yourself down.  Prepare for turbulence!  You ain’t seen nothing yet!  From here on in everything is gonna get a little surreal.  Everything is gonna get a little crazy.

Futurists have long known this time would come.  Prices on a Hanson prediction market would be oscillating up and down faster than Jordan’s knickers right now.  It can mean only one thing.  We’re entered the period of extreme social, economic and political volatility in the final run-up to Singularity. The fire of revolution has set hearts aflame!  The future starts now!

I just want to echo Mike’s statement. Having been there on the scene today, even with the Naomi Kliens and the Keith Olbermans…it is too small….but I documented that it has been growing, not only in size around the country and with watchers from abroad, but in organizational potential….the list of “focus groups” grew 3x in the past 5 days.

Mike’s and CygnusX1’s sentiments are precisely why the transhumanist movement needs to participate. This significance of this Occupy movement is that it can feed into alot more people’s existing knowledge base and comfort zone, to allow new solutions to start to spring up. The people at the IEET and WFS and H+ related orgs have to be present in these focus groups to drive some substance in this Occupy movement. These want a paradigm shift, bit just a few new policy changes.

America is in a unique position to be able to because of their relative classless society to propose strategies that make the culture agile ... instead of that word that I dread so much: sustainable. The people at Occupy aren’t looking for another rigid model to ride-out until it dies, so that they can leave their bills and burden on their children….the only way to achieve their vague and potential goals is through some relatively radical deployments of our current technological potential. They need a bit of intellectual help. There will be many organization joining in here….and we need to be a significant participant.

One of the biggest problems that I saw with the movement was, even as its size multiples, is that many of the people there don’t vote and cant afford to pay taxes….this gives their adversaries no incentives to acknowledge their existence. Dozens of people for physically beat-up by the police yesterday, and they can’t defend themselves legally. While non-violence might be desirable, another pacifist movement is not. These people need help, but I think that they have they passion and will continue to (because of the unchanging economic situation) move forward.

“hacker activists such as anon have already been getting in some good initial punches against ‘the system’ “

If only the Selective Service System can be hacked into and all its files destroyed. Little chance enough youths could ever be conscripted; yet the very fact SSS exists to—as a last resort—draft youths means they are thought of as cannon fodder. And that means SSS has no respect for them. Which means deep-down America has no respect for them, perceiving the country as a business whose inventory must be defended by blood greasing the gears.
‘Defense’ isn’t to defend the Constitution, it is to defend property; property is real—the Constitution is an abstraction. Families are real, they are flesh and blood; while nation is an abstraction as well.

“...America is in a unique position to be able to because of their relative classless society…”

I am sorry but the US is a caste society. Irreversible. Frankly I found my visit in this regard quite offensive.

I think if “Occupy X” would get an actual bite, it would trigger a state of emergency and a permanent disbanding of formal democracy. I hope to be proven completely wrong.

“I am sorry but the US is a caste society.”

In some ways, yes. The old truism that America is a nation of contrasts is trite but relevant. As James Reston wrote it is modern materially yet old fashioned in all other ways. If most of you lived in the interior—the larger part of the country—you would not question this at all.
One of the largest contrasts of all is Americans generally dislike big government yet not for their own people. It isn’t what they say, it is what they do not say; it is the hidden subtext:
“I dislike big government [but not for MY family]”. Since America does possess a substantial middle class, aid for the middle class is popular; aid for the poor is, unsurprisingly, less popular.
Once you comprehend (most of you already do) such, you know what is going on. The hypocrisy succeeded up until recently, but now too many know. However the knowledge is blunted by their own kin being aided by the state.
Naturally, we could go on with a tedious laundry list of the the factors involved in America’s contrasts (or ‘caste’ as you not-inaccurately wrote). America is more prudish than Europe however its porn industry is larger—the orgy on Saturday, church on Sunday dichotomy.
Peter Wicks brought up how with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, America is obviously technically more socialist than Europe—though Americans can’t admit it to themselves even though it is now hidden in plain sight. In fact, the question ought to be asked, can America even be considered a capitalist nation? the answer is yes however with a qualifier. Yes America is capitalist but it is state capitalist, and all the blarney about the Founders is becoming a total joke. Glance for a second at the lead piece in todays American Spectator:
It is an article on Andrew Jackson, a president who reigned circa 180 years ago. They are not really conservatives, they are sentimentalists—nostalgic for an era that is long dead and buried. Andrew Jackson’s America died in the shade long before Hitler was a corporal. Pete Wicks summed it up correctly: it is “neurosis”. In this case a neurotic obsession with the distant past. 180 years ago conservatives really were conservatives, and they were generally rugged and frugal.

I’d like to apologize to everyone for my last comment, and its typos. They make the sentences difficult to read. This is why you never write anything at 2AM on a train 😊 LOL….

I would like to say, regarding the “caste system” referenced by Khannea, that I think I understand what you mean. However, the potential for relatively lowly members of the American society to have significant impact on the PEST (political, economic, socio-cultural, & technological) welfare of the society is liberal in comparison with its eastern/western European, Japanese, and Russian peers. At least this is what I think, and I’ll do my best to find some time to elaborate at the blog, because it is not relevant to the IEET’s topical matter.

Its actually relevant that you mentioned the “disbanding of formal democracy”...the groups that initially called for this protest were anarchist groups focused on media jamming and the like. I tool a lot of pictures down there and the contrast of participating was awesome. there were professionals offering just a few hours of time, and what some of us have called hippies, looking like they were out of a 60’s documentary. Look and Perception matter in when consider the “castes” that you mentioned earlier. The affluent caste has a dress code and an etiquette code that is elitist and conservative, and having initially walked down Broadway with some bankers and marketing friends from the surround buildings of the protest, their first reaction was “how do these people hope to inspire any change, looking like this”. They saw signs that said “dont vote”, and “dont pay taxes”.

These non participant ideals actually cripple the movement, because they take away the incentives that “leaders” of sorts actually have to engage this public. Again, this is why technoprogressives need to stay engaged with this fledgling group, to provide the substance.

In all of this, I am certain of one thing, and I’ve written about in my last book, here at IEET, and at the WFS, is that more people will feel the brunt of the waning job market. Its traceable and inevitable.

The question of our time will be: “Can affluent groups find the other to be on value?”

Perhaps not.
Question is: will the other continue to risk their health doing all sorts of gruntwork when so many possibilities are on the horizon? can rubes get illegals (‘undocumenteds’) and those from off the Western Hemisphere to do the gruntwork? We are so focused on the exotic we don’t always see the mundane.
Do what you want, I’m going to tell the protesters to disrupt the GOP convention to attempt to do something to stop the GOP from electing another Cheney administration:
IMO this is priority #1.
The protesters are doing okay for their general age group. Rubes have no respect and will show no respect for those who do not fight them every step of the way by pulling every string they can.
It is not like in academia!

@post-post: I think that type of initiative is needed as a part of the democratic process. you should comment in their weekly indy new paper the “occupy wall street journal” look for it at their website or at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Democratically, yes. I only really mean to say the protesters are youths who have the cards stacked against them due to their lack of funds and experience. By ‘fight’ is meant:
they have to be on the ball all the time, especially as they are basically young rabbits surrounded by wolves.
James, I’m not even quite progressive—not to any great degree anyway—merely extremely suspicious that those who have or want undeserved power are going to do everything they can to retain or gain power; while those such as the protesters are going to have do everything they can to evade the clutches of those who would get their hooks into them. People do not spend all/most of their lives grabbing power, then merely to relinquish it; they as a rule press their advantages to the max, assuming others will do the same. They have no regard for those who don’t stick up for their own interests.
If one reads National Review and American Spectator, the two main mouthpieces of the Right, a clear message will be seen after reading between the lines:
“this is our world and we will do what we have to do—our country right or wrong.”

If you read all their articles everyday that message does emerge. Plus you can see it all around you as well—only not codified .

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